Okami HD Review
Some games don’t age well. Be it graphics, gameplay or story, certain games lose that lustre after a decade on the shelf. Not so with Okami. Even eleven years later, this Capcom title looks just as gorgeous as it did when it was first released. In fact, the highest compliment I can pay this version is that Okami HD is a perfect, high-definition reproduction of a fantastic game.
Okami is the story of a white wolf who is also the mother of every god in Japan. You’re tasked with restoring balance and beauty to the land using an ink brush that literally rewrites reality. The narrative is a mix of several different stories from Japanese folklore. Amaterasu the sun goddess/ Shiranui the white wolf of legend must prevent the dreaded Orochi from corrupting and consuming the world. Along with the main task of restoring the natural order, Amaterasu (or Ammy) encounters a host of people with problems that need solving. These duties, like the main quest, are a source of praise. As a god, Ammy is more or less fueled by praise. It’s a small touch, but one that adds genuine narrative weight to even the most mundane task. Rather than some arbitrary currency, your progress and growth are fueled by connecting with the people you meet.
“Every level gets prettier and prettier the more progress you make.”
While this is a pretty familiar story, it’s the execution that makes Okami stand out. Your victories are marked by natural beauty returning to the land. Whenever a major milestone is achieved, you’re treated to a breathtaking cutscene showing a tidal wave of cherry blossoms and exploding greenery. Once-desolate vistas are infused with life, tranquil ponds spring from the earth, animals gather to graze and sunlight breaks through the clouds. Every level gets prettier and prettier the more progress you make. This is augmented somewhat in HD, but not by much. Again, there’s little room for improvement when it comes to Okami’s visual presentation.
There are some small fixes which improve upon the original release. You can skip cutscenes, which is essential for anyone who’s played Okami a time or two before. You can also access various menus from the touchpad and adjust the screen ratio for a more or less modern look. The one major upgrade is the resolution, which can go all the way to 4K if you’ve got the hardware. The one unfortunate downside is the framerate, which is locked at 30 fps. If you’re the sort of person who craves maximum visual fidelity this might be a problem, but the game is designed to run at 30. Allegedly, uncapping the framerate causes catastrophic issues with the game’s performance.
While there’s been a few minor tweaks and changes, the lion’s share of this game remains untouched and pristine. What was amazing about it then is still amazing about it now. The controls are tight and responsive. The characters are endearing. The music is tranquil and elevating. Most of all, the sumi-e ink graphics are just as incredible as they were back in 2006. I sincerely believe that the developers could not make this game prettier with any amount of time, simply because it’s already perfect on that front. Traditional polygons and surface textures grow muddy and bland with every passing year, while Okami will shine brightly for decades to come. Maybe it has to do with their choice of art style, maybe it’s tied to the execution of said style, but Okami has aged beautifully.
“Traditional polygons and surface textures grow muddy and bland with every passing year, while Okami will shine bright for decades to come.”
I still have precious little patience for the vocal style. It makes sense from an accessibility standpoint, as a single nonsensical audio track works equally well for both English and Japanese audiences (as well as everyone else around the world). But man, does it get old fast. Maybe it’s because I’ve played through this game a couple of times before already, but I was so grateful for the ability to skip cutscenes. The weird, babbling dialogue audio starts sawing through my skin after a while. Yes, all that skipping has a negative impact on narrative comprehension, but there’s still so much to see and do in this game that doesn’t rely on a steady stream of Charlie Brown babble.
That’s a minor grievance though, a single patch of cloud in an otherwise beautiful blue sky of a game. If you’ve played Okami before, I promise it’s just as good -if not better- than you remember. If you’ve never spent any time with this game, though? Good god, what are you waiting for? Okami is art in motion, a triumph of gameplay and graphics that will hole up in your brain for months and years to come. Either way, Okami is an easy, wholehearted recommendation for me to make.
*** PS4 code provided by the publisher ***
- Game is even prettier in hi-def
- Small fixes included for added convenience
- You can skip cutscenes now
- Game is locked at 30 fps
- No major content additions